Nicola at the Innovation Lab!


Listening to the Voice of Young People in Dundee - the Innovation Lab at Abertay University

Nicola had the pleasure of going along to the Innovation Lab on Wednesday 26 September at Abertay University. The action packed day was a collaboration between Abertay University, Dundee Council and the Year of the Young People.

Arriving at Abertay, I was greeted with some friendly faces, a name badge and a goodie bag. One of the things I have learned from being a student is to always grasp at the opportunity for a freebie! Good start to the day.

I didn't know what to expect from the Innovation Lab and I was excited at the opportunity to attend. 2018 was the first year that it had ran in Dundee and the information we received sounded very interesting. The blurb explained that the 'Innovation Lab' would be a great opportunity to meet with decision makers in the City, create a legacy for our Year of the Young People and influence policy. It would be an opportunity for young people to contribute to what you think are the big issues in Dundee at the moment. I was intrigued. This opportunity was open to our core pupils from our Dundee schools, so I was looking forward to having them involved in the day!

We were directed to the lecture theatre space where we heard from Audrey May, Head of Education/Chief Education Officer at Dundee City Council and a few other important speakers. The aim of the day was, through various focus groups, to hear the opinions and Ideas of the young people of Dundee on issues such as bullying and the future which would feed into Dundee City Council policy.

As an adult (am I?), I wasn't allowed to go into the focus groups; that was an adult free zone! But I got an interesting workshop from the recruitment team about different routes into Abertay (from school, college or late in life) and contextual admissions.

In the afternoon there were also different taster sessions which I also could attend. I chose to attend the Gaming Design Session (some LO2S market research maybe...). We got an introduction to a PHD Student Niall Moody who specialises in multiplayer games; we even got to play some of the games he created.

The part of the day, in my opinion, which made most impact was the two inspirational speakers: Sir Tom Hunter and Gavin Oattes. Both had followed very different paths in life, overcoming challenges and setbacks, to become very successful people (check out the Hunter Foundation and Tree of Knowledge). They spoke about the importance of listening to the voice of young people and to grasp every opportunity that comes your way even if this means being flexible in your own plans. Even I was left inspired!

At the end, we got to hear a few examples of the ideas that the young people had and there were some really great ideas - amazing contribution from all!

I think the day was fantastic and full of inspiring ideas and conversation which is food for thought not just for the Dundee Council but also the teachers, guests and young people. Well done to everyone involved!

Just to end, an anecdote from Gavin Oattes: in his speech he referred to life as a bowl of Rice Crispies. Without the milk, the bowl is very bland, tasteless and beige but when you add the milk they come alive and basically snap, crackle and pop. He reminded us that we need to be the milk in life - so embrace everything that comes your way and go out and #BetheMilk.

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